Snoring is relatively common, affecting 2 in every 10 Australian adults during their lifetime. While snoring can keep family awake at night and test relationships, it usually doesn’t cause significant health problems.
However in some people snoring can indicate a more serious medical condition called obstructive sleep apnoea, causing interruptions to breathing throughout the night. Usually the person has no awareness of these brief episodes but finds they wake unrefreshed.
Other signs of obstructive sleep apnoea include excessive daytime sleepiness, choking or gasping during sleep, sore or dry throat on waking, morning headache, poor concentration, memory deterioration, decreased sex drive, impotence, irritability, anxiety and depression. Obstructive sleep apnoea increases a person’s risk of other medical conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
The use of specialised mouthpieces called oral appliances can be an effective method for treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. Oral appliances are fitted by dentists working in cooperation with respiratory or sleep physicians. They work by holding the jaw forward, therefore preventing the airway from collapsing during sleep. This opening of the airway prevents both snoring and the pauses in breathing that occur during obstructive sleep apnoea.
The treatment of snoring or sleep apnoea with an oral appliance is safe, painless, and effective. The appliances are easy to wear and it is possible to speak, yawn, or drink wearing one. They can greatly improve quality of life, not only for those who wear them but for partners and family too!